, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 695-708
Date: 07 Apr 2012

Stress-related Serotonergic Systems: Implications for Symptomatology of Anxiety and Affective Disorders

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Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that serotonergic neurons in the midbrain raphe complex have a functional topographic organization. Recent studies suggest that stimulation of a bed nucleus of the stria terminalis-dorsal raphe nucleus pathway by stress- and anxiety-related stimuli modulates a subpopulation of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal part of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRD) and caudal part of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRC) that participates in facilitation of anxiety-like responses. In contrast, recent studies suggest that activation of a spinoparabrachial pathway by peripheral thermal or immune stimuli excites subpopulations of serotonergic neurons in the ventrolateral part of the dorsal raphe nucleus/ventrolateral periaqueducal gray (DRVL/VLPAG) region and interfascicular part of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRI). Studies support a role for serotonergic neurons in the DRVL/VLPAG in inhibition of panic-like responses, and serotonergic neurons in the DRI in antidepressant-like effects. Thus, data suggest that while some subpopulations of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus play a role in facilitation of anxiety-like responses, others play a role in inhibition of anxiety- or panic-like responses, while others play a role in antidepressant-like effects. Understanding the anatomical and functional properties of these distinct serotonergic systems may lead to novel therapeutic strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of affective and anxiety disorders. In this review, we describe the anatomical and functional properties of subpopulations of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus, with a focus on those implicated in symptoms of anxiety and affective disorders, the DRD/DRC, DRVL/VLPAG, and DRI.